Golden Deals with Demons 

Buffy screenwriter also writes vampire-slayer novels, comics.

It's Christopher Golden's fault that Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets herself into such sticky situations. Golden, one of the most prolific horror novelists at work today, is a major scriptwriter for the TV program and has authored several Buffy books and full-length Buffy comics.

"I saw the first episode and loved it. My agent tracked down the editor who had licensed the rights," he says. "The rest is history."

As if a zillion other fans haven't angled for the same plums but come up empty-handed. The difference is that Golden can create scenes and dialogue that feel so creepily real you kind of wish they didn't. His latest novel, The Ferryman (Signet, $6.99), takes a perfectly nice couple to Hades. (Yeah, that ferryman.)

"I've loved weird stuff since I was a child. My brother and I watched every monster movie, every horror film, both old movies on TV and whatever came through the multiplex. And my father used to wake us up late at night to watch Kolchak, the Night Stalker. When I started to read for pleasure, it was always horror stories."

Once he started writing -- ditto.

"My heart is always slipping into the shadows in search of the magic there. There's something reassuring about the supernatural. If we can believe even for a moment that demons exist, then perhaps we can believe in angels as well, and everything that entails."

Buffy swept him off his feet because "when I was a kid, even though Velma was the smartest member of the gang on Scooby-Doo, the gang couldn't follow her because she was 'a chick.' Freddy wasn't that bright, but he was big and handsome and a guy, so he was the leader," Golden says. "The Scooby-Doo cartoons illustrate a truth in entertainment that persisted for decades, taking its lead from our culture. Men were in charge. Men took the lead. Certain fictional characters in TV and on film tested this theory. Ellen Ripley in the Alien films -- but Ripley was a victim who fought back in order to survive. Same with Sarah Connor in the Terminator films. And even then, they had male counterparts who helped decide the course of action, who lent them support that they needed.

"Buffy Summers broke the mold. She was not a victim but a hero: the slayer. She had a burden on her shoulders that no one would ask for, but she bore it without complaint. She was the boss, and though she had male counterparts, it seems clear that she would have made her way without them. Buffy is in charge and the others are following her. Makes you kind of sad for Velma, doesn't it?" -- Anneli Rufus

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